Motherhood is often precieved as uncomplicated, joyous and fulfilling. Albeit, some sacrifices have to be made, career aspirations restricted but on the whole motherhood is thought of as a welcome transition in every woman’s life. Popular and traditional representations of motherhood, young, attractive smiling women holding beautiful, healthy babies in nappy adverts or highly publicised and Photoshopped images of WAGs and other celebrity mums in the popular media, which resonate with the archetypal ‘Madonna and Child’ religious iconographic paintings confirming fulfilment and comfort women supposedly derive from the maternal role.
What is omitted and obscured in these dominant forms are the realities of motherhood as experienced by most women, especially, and most intensely, with the first child.
Becoming a mother affects an extreme and abrupt change in a woman’s life, constituted of loss of identity, loss of financial independence, loss of personal space and time, loss of status and extreme restrictions of freedom in addition to the changes in the body; often irreparable scars and physical trauma. Going through these changes, learning to accept what is lost and discovering the joys of the maternal role is a gradual process.
When my eldest was born I found the transition to motherhood almost unbearable and the invisibility of similar experiences, the lack of realistic role models only increased my own feelings of isolation and insecurity. Only with the birth of my second child I began to question and articulate my initial trauma. My work hence had been concerned with articulating honestly what I perceive to be my maternal subjectivity.